ADDIS ABABA – The Hailemariam and Roman Foundation (HRF) set out to preserve Ethiopia’s Maze National Park and its watershed with the support of a 5 million euros grant from France.
The Foundation’s CEO Roman Tesfaye and Deputy Director of the Agence Française de Development (AFD) Sonia Lioret signed a grant agreement on Friday.
The grant will help the foundation to carry out its preservation work at the Maze National Park (MzNP) park, located 460 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa.
The project envisages making the park a model of a well-managed, functional National Park which renders social, economic, and ecological benefits to the local communities in its five-year lifespan.
Maze National Park (MzNP) – situated in Gamo Gofa Zone – is among a few relatively well-conserved areas.
“The comprehensive approach of the project will support the conservation of biodiversity in Maze National Park,” French Ambassador Rémi Maréchaux said.
It will also “improve the conditions of the surrounding communities and finally ensure sufficient water flow in Maze’s river for the benefits of the nature and the people,” the ambassador added
Apart from the river that gives the park its name, the MzNP possesses a number of rivers and streams that ultimately drains to the Omo River.
Former Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, who is also Chair of the HRF Board, pointed out that the biodiversity stock of Ethiopia has been dwindling due to population pressure and climate change.
Most of the remnant biodiversity resources are found only in peripheries that are designated as protected areas, he said.
Ethiopia’s protected area system covers 10% of the country’s land mass.
But many of them need to be legally gazetted, and their management system lacks capacity due to limited funding, poor facilities, and understaffing, resulting in low management effectiveness, Hailemariam noted. Thus, preserving the remaining biodiversity resources in these peripheral areas is a matter of survival and an emergency response.
The MzNP is covered by savanna grassland with scattered deciduous broad-leaved trees as well as Riverine association along the main watercourses, supporting a wide range of savannah species.
Its wildlife conservation area of 220 k.m2 is one of the three sites in the world where a good population of the endemic Swayne’s Hartebeest population still survives. It is also a home for Orbi, Bohor Reedbuck, Buffalo, Warthog, bushbuck, waterbuck, Greater Kudu, Lesser Kudu, Bush Pig, Onibus Baboon, Vervet Monkey, lion, leopard, and several wild cat species.
The Hailemariam and Roman Foundation plans to start the preservation project at the Parkin Dec 2023.